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Distant Worlds: Universe (2014)

Latest patch: 1.9.5.12 (May 2015)

Distant Worlds: Universe is the newest chapter of this critically acclaimed sci-fi series, adding incredible new features and an exciting new storyline. Universe is also the ultimate collector’s edition, the first time all previous Distant Worlds releases have been included in one package, along with an updated manual and greatly expanded modding support.

Distant Worlds is a vast, pausable real-time 4X space strategy game. Experience the full depth and detail of turn-based strategy, but with the simplicity and ease of real-time, and on the scale of a massively-multiplayer online game.

Vast galaxies are made to order: up to 1400 star systems, with up to 50,000 planets, moons and asteroids. Galaxies are so deep, fun and immersive that you won’t want to finish the game. Build, expand and improve your empire while playing through one of the storylines, with victory conditions or in an open-ended sandbox mode.

Each galaxy is packed with life and activity. Encounter other empires, independent alien colonies, traders, pirates and space monsters. Explore star systems, asteroid fields, gas clouds, supernovae, galactic storms and black holes. Discover evidence of civilizations long since past, uncovering secrets about the galaxy's troubled history...

Best of all, you can play the game your way: enjoy a quick, intense game in a crowded sector of space or take your time in an epic game spread across a vast galaxy!

  • Truly Epic-Scale Galaxies: play in galaxies with up to 1400 star systems and 50,000 planets, moons and asteroids. Vast nebula clouds spiral out from the galactic core, shaping the distribution of star clusters in the galaxy
  • Private Enterprise: the private citizens of your empire automatically take care of mundane tasks like mining resources, transporting cargo, migration between colonies, tourism and much more. This frees you from micro-management and instead allows you to focus on a macro-scale
  • Intelligent Automation: automate the various tasks in your empire, so that you can focus on the areas that you enjoy most. Or have your advisors make suggestions in different areas like colonization, defence or diplomacy – helping you learn the best tactics and strategies
  • Explore: explore the vast galaxy, discovering valuable resources, potential colonies for your empire and making contact with other empires. Uncover secrets that lift the veil on the galaxy’s mysterious past...
  • Colonize: send out colony ships to found new worlds for your empire. Develop your new colonies by keeping them well-supplied with a steady stream of valuable resources
  • Defend: patrol the outlying areas of your empire to protect from raiding pirates or dangerous space monsters. Construct defensive bases at your colonies. Build up your fleets to defend against enemy empires. Recruit troops to invade enemy colonies and conquer the galaxy!
  • Diplomacy: interact with other empires, discussing treaties, making trade offers or just giving them a piece of your mind. Talk to pirate factions, tapping into their underground information, or paying them to do your dirty work for you...
  • Espionage: covertly seek out information about other empires, or even disrupt their progress with acts of sabotage
  • Research: develop new technologies for use in building your own unique ships and star bases
  • Characters: including Leaders, Admirals, Generals, Ambassadors, Governors, Agents and Scientists, all with defined skills and traits and the opportunity to advance and improve
  • Design and Build: A very flexible system allows you to design and build the ships and star bases in your empire. Construct mighty military ships ranging from escorts to carriers and dreadnoughts at your space ports, or build mining stations, research installations or secret monitoring facilities at remote locations throughout the galaxy
  • Choose your Playstyle: Start with a single planet and sub-light ships, or as an established space-faring civilization with warp drives. Play as a Standard empire or as a Pirate faction, with many adjustable victory conditions and gameplay choices depending on your actions.
  • Built-in Game Editor: fine-tune your own galaxy, adding or removing star systems, planets, asteroid fields, ships, star bases, space monsters or anything else. Modify the attributes of any empire in your game
  • Extensive Help: exhaustive, built-in, context-sensitive help is always only a single key-press away. Press F1 at any time for a detailed explanation of the current game screen, your currently selected item, etc
  • Tutorials: in-game tutorials familiarize you with all of the game elements and tools

New in Distant Worlds: Universe!

  • The entire Distant Worlds series in one package! Universe includes the Original Distant Worlds, Return of the Shakturi, Legends, Shadows and the new Universe expansion!
  • Comprehensive Modding and Customization Support: Allows adding/removing/changing most items: resources (including new colony-manufactured resources), ship components, planetary facilities and wonders, fighter designs, alien races and race families, diplomatic dialog, empire policy, custom characters, ship and base design templates, governments, plagues, research tech trees and more
    • Can customize most of the images used in the game: ships and bases, fighters, alien races, planetary facilities and wonders, characters, troops, components, resources, ancient ruins, planets, stars, asteroids, animated in-game effects and more
    • Use a previously saved and editor-customized game as a map for a new game (instead of generating a new galaxy)
    • Powerful new event system accessible from a considerably-upgraded Game Editor. Set up your own storyline in a custom map with triggered events and custom victory conditions
    • Add story triggers on specific in-game objects or events, executing one or more actions on other in-game objects (either immediately or delayed)
    • Can replace most of the user interface icons and sound effects
    • Add your own custom help files to the in-game Galactopedia
    • Switch between different customization sets with a couple of mouse clicks from the main game menu
    • Comprehensive 99-page Modding Guide that outlines how to make Mods and explains all of the settings in detail
  • A new official storyline built using the new modding capabilities, covering the first war between the Freedom Alliance and the Shaktur Axis, in which you have access to the tech required to build your own planet destroyers, establish the Ancient Guardians and research and deploy the Xaraktor virus.

Older versions of the game

Distant Worlds: Shadows (2013)

As of May 22nd, 2013, Distant Worlds has been further spiced by the '''Shadows''' expansion, bringing to the players many new features (among the greatest the ability to play a Pirate faction and also being able to play in the Age of Shadows era, dating before the Legends timeline and thus serving as a pre-dated startup).

If you have never played Distant Worlds, first see the Distant Worlds: Legends section further below, which deals with the original game and its two expansions. Anyone else, read on!

As per the official Matrix webpage:

The third expansion to Distant Worlds, Shadows, allows the player to start a new empire before the discovery of hyperspace travel and to try to expand into the stars. Or, he can play as one of the legendary Pirate factions of the Age of Shadows, competing with new victory conditions to establish an alternate history with the pirates triumphing over the planetary civilizations. The pirate options alone include four completely new playstyles (ranging from Raiders to Smugglers) and new smuggling and mercenary missions. Also included are ship boarding actions and ship and base capture, new Ship Captain characters and pirates raiding planets and space stations.
New gameplay also includes expanded ground combat, with a full new ground combat tech tree, a ground combat resolution screen and multiple different troop types (infantry, armor, planetary defences and special forces). Ground combat is now animated and resolved from the descent of the first assault pods from orbit to the final battles for planetary control, with new bonuses for combined arms and the effects of the different troop types as well as local space superiority all considered in the outcome.
The expanded tech tree also includes Gravitic Weapons and Tractor Beams, as well as additional planetary facilities that allow you more customization on character recruitment.
Distant Worlds: Shadows also includes an updated and improved graphical engine that allows for much better performance in the epic 1,000+ star galaxies that many Distant Worlds fans enjoy. The AI is also much improved, especially in terms of the economy. A new comprehensive difficulty setting should ensure that even the most experienced Distant Worlds player will find a challenge in Distant Worlds: Shadows. As usual, modding support has been kept up to date with the new improvements.
With brand new gameplay, as well as greatly expanded gameplay for all play styles, Distant Worlds: Shadows is an exciting and essential new addition to the vast, living galaxy of Distant Worlds!
  • Play as an Empire or a Pirate in the Age of Shadows
  • Start as a pre-Hyperspace Empire
  • Start as a Raider, Pirate, Mercenary or Smuggler and play with an entirely space-based faction that can if successful become a planetary empire as well
  • New Pirate Leader and Pirate Captain characters
  • Assault pods and ship to ship or base boarding actions, including ship and base capture
  • Gravitic Weapons and Tractor Beams
  • New expanded Ground Combat with new troop types and an animated ground battle resolution screen
  • Infantry, Armor/Mech, Special Forces, Planetary Defense Units
  • Resolution of the multiple stages of a planetary assault
  • New Ground Combat technology tree
  • Expanded and improved Area Weapons
  • New planetary facilities
  • Improved AI and new comprehensive difficulty settings
  • New and Improved higher performance Graphics Engine

Distant Worlds: Legends (2011)

Distant Worlds in its current "Legends" incarnation is a true 4X space game, encompassing all of the four parts of the original Alan Emrich's term "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate", which he used in his preview of Master of Orion in 1993.

Distant Worlds lets the players take on the roles of intergalactic civilizations in their quest for reaching the stars beyond their home system and travelling to foreign worlds, expanding their culture, economy and might as they go. This inevitably leads to contacts with others and the resulting relationships, whether they be friendly, hostile, or indifferent.

Let me hand over the microphone to the Distant Worlds Legends Manual and the official Matrix Games pages to provide you with a summary of what the game offers:

Distant Worlds is a vast real-time 4X space strategy game in which you, the player, must lead a space civilization, controlling its diplomacy, economy, military and technology. The victory and even survival of your civilization is completely in your hands!
Distant Worlds is about the grandest of grand strategy on the most epic of scales: galaxies with up to 1,400 star systems and 50,000 planets, moons, asteroids, space creatures and dozens of other civilizations!
As leader of your civilization, you must explore, colonize, fight, engage other civilizations in diplomacy, build, research and send agents on espionage, all with one goal in mind: to dominate the galaxy!
Your empire is divided in two sections: the state, which you control, and the private sector, which you do not. You have four basic tasks: explore the galaxy, colonize new planets, construct new ships, and defend your empire.
The first expansion to Distant Worlds, Return of the Shakturi, came with many improvements and an expanded storyline. Two new alien races with associated events expanded the original storyline. Research system was updated with new tech trees and tech options. Game interface was improved with the so much needed Empire Navigation Tool for quick access to the various overview detaily, Action Buttons for common tasks, Enemy Targets showing all threats, Build Orders for easier production and much more. Also, new Empire Policies were added for fine-tuning the empire. Modding support was enhanced over the initial release.
The second expansion, Legends, includes many improvements to make Distant Worlds more rich and immersive, including new special events and faction-specific victory conditions. You can play a game with the full storyline, none of it, or only part of it, based on your choices when creating a new game and you can also turn on or off Disasters, Events and the special victory conditions. New Character system was provided including Leaders, Admirals, Governors, Ambassadors, Scientists and Agents with defined abilities and traits. New race-specific events allow the players to create a completely new game each time. The tech tree was expanded again with dedicated carriers, cutting lasers, rail guns, new planetary facilities and wonders and much more.
A new model for borders and spheres of influence was created for each faction. Also, new fleet management and automation commands were added. Additional overlays provide the players with even more information where needed, making it easier to track ships and fleets. Larger galaxies and map sizes were introduced for massive gameplay. Empire policies were expanded and Diplomacy has been overhauled to make the AI more intelligent and to include mining and refuelling rights. As already mentioned before, modding support grew in size and now allows modders even more freedom in their own work.

Below you will find the features for the base game and the expansions, as can be seen on the official Matrix Games website.

  • Truly Epic-Scale Galaxies: play in galaxies with up to 1400 star systems and 50,000 planets, moons and asteroids. Vast nebula clouds spiral out from the galactic core, shaping the distribution of star clusters in the galaxy
  • Private Enterprise: the private citizens of your empire automatically take care of mundane tasks like mining resources, transporting cargo, migration between colonies, tourism and much more. This frees you from micro-management and instead allows you to focus on a macro-scale
  • Intelligent Automation: automate the various tasks in your empire, so that you can focus on the areas that you enjoy most. Or have your advisors make suggestions in different areas like colonization, defence or diplomacy helping you learn the best tactics and strategies
  • Explore: explore the vast galaxy, discovering valuable resources, potential colonies for your empire and making contact with other empires. Uncover secrets that lift the veil on the galaxys mysterious past...
  • Colonize: send out colony ships to found new worlds for your empire. Develop your new colonies by keeping them well-supplied with a steady stream of valuable resources
  • Defend: patrol the outlying areas of your empire to protect from raiding pirates or dangerous space monsters. Construct defensive bases at your colonies. Build up your fleets to defend against enemy empires. Recruit troops to invade enemy colonies and conquer the galaxy!
  • Diplomacy: interact with other empires, discussing treaties, making trade offers or just giving them a piece of your mind. Talk to pirate factions, tapping into their underground information, or paying them to do your dirty work for you...
  • Espionage: covertly seek out information about other empires, or even disrupt their progress with acts of sabotage
  • Research: develop new technologies for use in building your own unique ships and star bases
  • Build: design and build the ships and star bases in your empire. Construct mighty military ships at your space ports, or build mining stations, research installations or secret monitoring facilities at remote locations throughout the galaxy
  • Built-in Game Editor: fine-tune your own galaxy, adding or removing star systems, planets, asteroid fields, ships, star bases, space monsters or anything else. Modify the attributes of any empire in your game
  • Extensive Help: exhaustive, built-in, context-sensitive help is always only a single key-press away. Press F1 at any time for a detailed explanation of the current game screen, your currently selected item, etc
  • Tutorials: in-game tutorials familiarize you with all of the game elements and tools
  • Built-in Customization: modify all ship art, alien races, and much more. Switch between different customization sets with a couple of mouse clicks from the main game menu

New backstory

  • Two new alien races with exciting storyline events!
  • Next chapter of the storyline where a possible intergalactic menace returns!

Fighters and Carriers

  • Build fighter bay components into ships and bases
  • Fighters launch from carriers to intercept enemies: standard fighters that attack other fighters, bombers that attack ships and bases. Several fighter and bomber variants available with research.

Completely new Research system with comprehensive tech trees

  • Greatly expanded technology options with customizable research costs allow you to tailor your game to your liking!
  • Queue multiple research projects in each tree, crash research to obtain new tech faster
  • Some research projects improve existing components, minimizing the need to retrofit ships and bases to obtain new tech advantages

New tech for your ships and bases

  • Missiles faster and longer range than torpedoes
  • Ion Weapons fire ion bolts that disable weapons and engines of enemy ships
  • Ion Defense protects ships and bases from the effects of ion weapons
  • Point Defense Cannons attack enemy fighters and bombers
  • Fleet Targeting Uplink improve weapons targeting of all nearby ships
  • Fleet Area ECM improve countermeasures of all nearby ships
  • Area Shield Restore quickly recharge shields of your nearby ships when in battle
  • HyperBlock Components provide safe zone around space ports, pulling enemy ships out of hyperspace before they reach a target
  • Trace Scanners reveal internal details of enemy ships and bases

Planetary Facilities built at colonies

  • Troop Academy trains elite troops with high strength
  • Robotic Troop Foundry manufactures robotic troops
  • Troop Cloning Facility clones the best troops in your empire
  • Giant Ion Cannon fires disabling ion bolts at invading enemy ships
  • Planetary Shield defends the colony against enemy bombardment
  • Regional Capital provides additional capitals in your empire, reducing corruption in nearby colonies

User Interface Improvements

  • Action Buttons - One-click access to common tasks, enabling you to easily manage most of your empire directly from the main screen
  • Colonize planets, build mining stations and other bases
  • Construct new ships and bases at space ports and colonies
  • Select enemy targets to attack
  • Empire Navigation Tool - Set of scrollable lists that provide quick access to everything in your empire: colonies, space ports, fleets, potential colonies, potential mining stations, etc.
  • Hover over an item in the list to ping its location in the main view
  • Click an item in the list to select it, double-click an item to move to it
  • Enemy Targets List - Shows all known enemy targets
  • Click a target to assign the nearest available fleet to attack it
  • Or cycle your fleets to attack with the selected fleet
  • Build Orders - Mass-produce many new ships in one simple step

Fleet enhancements

  • Automated Fleet formation generates both large and small sized fleets to more effectively handle both offense and defense
  • Automated Fleets automatically respond to intercept nearby enemies without additional player management

Other

  • Empire Policies: More detailed control over the automation of your empire set policy options that your advisers will enact for you, allowing you to focus on the strategic level.
  • New galaxy shapes in game setup
  • Extended modding support
  • Access to tech descriptions during Diplomacy
  • Many other minor improvements
  • Play Distant Worlds in windowed mode minimize the window while your game plays in the background
  • New character system, including Leaders, Admirals, Generals, Ambassadors, Governors, Agents and Scientists, all with defined skills and traits and the opportunity to advance and improve
  • New modelling of borders and spheres of influence
  • New expanded gameplay with race-specific events and victory conditions, as well as a new hidden faction!
  • Expanded technology tree, including dedicated carriers, cutting lasers, rail guns, new planetary facilities and wonders
  • Improved AI and an updated Diplomacy system with refuelling and mining rights as well as immigration policies
  • Improved fleet management and automation, including fleet postures
  • Improved modding support, including full race and character modding

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